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					                      Australian Archaeology




          Archived at Flinders University: dspace.flinders.edu.au



Full Citation Details:
Green, Jeremy & Henderson, Graeme 1974. Marine Archaeology at
the Western Australian Museum. 'Australian Archaeology', no.1,
15-17.
                             MARINE ARCHAEOLOGY AT THE W S E N
                                                        ET R
                                                         UE M
                                             AUSTRALIAN M S U



       The Museum Act (1969) g i v e s l e g a l p r o t e c t i o n t o v e s s e l s wrecked
       o r s t r a n d e d b e f o r e 1900. The Marine Archaeology Department has
       divided t h e wrecks i n t o two h i s t o r i c a l groupings, t h e pre-
       s e t t l e m e n t wrecks (1622 t o 1829) and t h e c o l o n i a l wrecks (1829
       t o 1900).

       A.     The pre-settlement wrecks.

              There a r e f i v e such wrecks known o f f t h e West A u s t r a l i a n
              c o a s t . The Trial (1622) i s t h e o l d e s t known wreck i n
              A u s t r a l i a n waters. She w a s an English East Indiaman,
              bound f o r Batavia when l o s t on t h e T r i a l Rocks, an
              i s o l a t e d r e e f n o r t h of t h e Monte Bello group of i s l a n d s .
              The Museum h a s c a r r i e d o u t a survey of t h i s s i t e .

              The BatavCa (1629) was t h e f l a g s h i p of a f l e e t of Dutch
              E a s t Indiamen s a i l i n g t o Batavia. She was l o s t on t h e
              Abrolhos group of i s l a n d s i n June, 1629. The s t o r y of
              t h e mutiny and massacre subsequent t o t h e wreck make
              t h i s one of t h e most g h a s t l y c h a p t e r s i n t h e h i s t o r y of
              t h e Dutch t r a d i n g empire i n t h e East.

              The Museum c a r r i e d o u t over l a s t summer a f i v e month
              e x c a v a t i o n of t h i s wreck. This f i r s t season of major
              e x c a v a t i o n h a s shown t h e s i t e t o be very r i c h
              a r c h a e o l o g i c a l l y , and, s o f a r , t h e m o s t important wreck
              on t h e c o a s t of Western A u s t r a l i a .

              Before excavation s t a r t e d a photogrammetric survey was made
              of t h e s i t e . A l l subsequent excavation plans were based on
              t h i s . A t r i a l excavation was commenced a t t h e s t e r n of t h e
              v e s s e l , p r i m a r i l y t o recover a group of b u i l d i n g blocks b u t
              a l s o t o determine whether any of t h e s h i p ' s timbers had
              s u r v i v e d i n t h e deeper l e v e l s of t h e s i t e . A t o t a l of 120
              b u i l d i n g blocks were recovered, weighing about 27 tons. These
              appear t o be p a r t of t h e facade of a building, possibly a
              portico.

              Timber was l o c a t e d i n one area and was uncovered. I t soon
              became obvious t h a t we were dealing with an extensive i n t a c t
              s e c t i o n of t h e s h i p ' s h u l l , a s t h e r e were t h i c k frames and
              planking.         The exposed timber was c l e a r e d of c o r a l and
              f l o a t i n g weed d e b r i s , and each plank i n d i v i d u a l l y tagged.
              A photomosaic w a s made of the timber a s each p i e c e was removed.

              Excavation was i n t e r r u p t e d before a l l t h e timber was recovered,
              and i t i s hoped t o r a i s e the remainder next season. The timber
              r a i s e d , measuring 8 metres by 5 metres, was re-photographed on
              l a n d , and matched w i t h t h e 1 : 10 photomosaics. The i n i t i a l
              r e s u l t s i n d i c a t e t h a t we w i l l be a b l e t o re-construct over
              90% of t h e timber s o f a r recovered.


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                  Among t h e many thousands of i n d i v i d u a l a r t i f a c t s recovered
                  were ceramic m a t e r i a l , coins, n a v i g a t i o n a l i n s t r u m e n t s ,
                  ordnance, s h o t , s h i p ' s f i t t i n g s and cargo items. D e t a i l e d
                  d e s c r i p t i o n s of t h e material cannot be given h e r e , b u t we
                  already have one of t h e l a r g e s t and most s i g n i f i c a n t
                  c o l l e c t i o n s of m a t e r i a l from a n e a r l y seventeenth century
                  wreck i n the world.

                  It became i n c r e a s i n g l y obvious when working i n t h i s f i e l d
                  t h a t i t i s a matter of archaeology and h i s t o r y working
                  together. The archaeology o f t h e wreck s i t e can provide
                  information t h a t i s not normally a v a i l a b l e t o t h e h i s t o r i a n .
                  The h i s t o r i c a l and a r c h i v a l background can b r i n g the
                  archaeological work i n t o a much c l e a r e r p e r s p e c t i v e .

                  The VerguZde Draeck (1656) w a s a yacht of t h e Dutch E a s t
                  I n d i a Company, l o s t about 110 k i l o m e t r e s n o r t h of P e r t h .
                  I n 1972 t h e Museum completed a major excavation season on
                  t h i s s i t e . A preliminary r e p o r t h a s been published
                  (J. Nautical Archaeology No.2) and an a r t i c l e on t h e ceramic
                  m a t e r i a l i s i n publication. Four more major a r t i c l e s a r e
                  planned, covering t h e organic m a t e r i a l , t h e h i s t o r i c a l
                  background, t h e metal a r t i f a c t s , t h e armament, and t h e s h i p
                  and i t s f i t t i n g s .

                  The Zuyt&rp (1712), l i e s at t h e base of a c l i f f , and i s
                  both d i f f i c u l t and dangerous t o d i v e on. So f a r o n l y two
                  b r i e f recovery expeditions have been made t o t h i s s i t e .

                  The Zeemjck (1727), was l o s t i n t h e Southern Group of t h e
                  Abrolhos Islands, and much o f t h e wreck was salvaged by t h e
                  survivors. Because of t h e d i f f i c u l t i e s involved i n working
                  t h e s i t e only reconnaissance e x p e d i t i o n s have been undertaken.

           B.     The Colonial Wrecks.

                  Numerically t h e pre-settlement wrecks make up l e s s than one
                  percent of the wrecks on the W.A. c o a s t . Over 1000 v e s s e l s
                  a r e recorded a s having been wrecked between 1829 and 1900,
                  t h e l i m i t of t h e l e g i s l a t i o n .

                  This circumstance d i c t a t e s the n a t u r e of t h e work being
                  done on t h e Colonial wrecks. Much of t h e work h a s taken
                  t h e nature of an archaeological f i e l d survey. A c a r d
                  catalogue lists t h e d e t a i l s of a l l v e s s e l s r e p o r t e d t o
                  have been wrecked off Western A u s t r a l i a . Only a s m a l l
                  proportion of these wrecks have been found.

                  The l e g i s l a t i o n r e q u i r e s a person f i n d i n g a wreck t o r e p o r t
                  i t t o t h e Museum. Museum s t a f f then i n s p e c t t h e wreck s i t e
                  t o record i t s p o s i t i o n , take samples f o r i d e n t i f i c a t i o n , and
                  evaluate the s i t e ' s p o t e n t i a l f o r f u t u r e excavation. Where
                  i t i s decided t h a t a wreck i s of h i s t o r i c a l importance i t is
                  vested under t h e Act t o give i t g r e a t e r p r o t e c t i o n .



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     Whereas t h e Dutch Wrecks Programme i s i n t e n s i v e : one
     major e x c a v a t i o n p e r y e a r w i t h r e s e a r c h a s s o c i a t e d w i t h
     t h a t e x c a v a t i o n , t h e C o l o n i a l Wrecks Programme i s
     e x t e n s i v e , and s o f a r no wreck has been f u l l y excavated.

     I n t e r e s t i n g r e s u l t s have been achieved during t h e process
     o f i d e n t i f y i n g s e v e r a l of t h e e a r l i e r Colonial wrecks.
     The wreck a t C o t t e s l o e beach, long thought t o have been
     evidence of pre-Dutch d i s c o v e r y of A u s t r a l i a by t h e
     P o r t u g u e s e , h a s been i d e n t i f i e d a s a small A u s t r a l i a n owned
     barque, t h e E l i z a b e t h , wrecked i n 1839. The A u s t r a l i a n
     S o c i e t y f o r H i s t o r i c a l Archaeology i s a t p r e s e n t p u b l i s h i n g
     a monograph on t h i s wreck. The a n a l y s i s of wreckage found a t
     Carnac I s l a n d h a s a l s o been productive. Previously thought
     t o have been from a s e a l i n g v e s s e l , t h e s e a r t i f a c t s have now
     been shown t o have come from t h e s t r a n d i n g of t h e H.M.S.
     Success i n November, 1829, t h u s being t h e e a r l i e s t Colonial
     wreckage y e t found i n Western A u s t r a l i a .               Captain James
     S t i r l i n g used t h e Success f o r h i s survey of t h e Swan River
     i n 1827, which l e d t o t h e s e t t l e m e n t being made i n 1829.
     An a r t i c l e on t h e i d e n t i f i c a t i o n has r e c e n t l y been submitted
     t o t h e Mariners Mimr.

     Excavation i s i n p r o g r e s s on t h e wreck of t h e E g l i n t o n , a
     B r i t i s h barque wrecked i n 1852 w i t h a g e n e r a l cargo f o r t h e
     merchants o f Fremantle. Very l i t t l e remains of t h e s h i p
     i t s e l f b u t a l a r g e q u a n t i t y of ceramic m a t e r i a l , glassware
     and m e t a l i t e m s from t h e c a r g o have been a i r l i f t e d from
     p o t h o l e s i n t h e l i m e s t o n e r e e f . E x t r a c t s from t h e manifest
     show t h a t a l a r g e p r o p o r t i o n of t h e merchants of t h e colony
     had consignments on board, s o t h e m a t e r i a l g i v e s a c r o s s
     s e c t i o n of some of t h e s o r t s of goods used i n t h e i n f a n t
     colony.

      Another wreck r e c e n t l y found i s t h e James Matheus, a b r i g
      wrecked i n 1841 w i t h a c a r g o d s l a t e s and g e n e r a l s u p p l i e s .
      The s i t e w a s found by members of t h e Underwater Explorers
      Club, who had been s e a r c h i n g f o r t h e wreck f o r a number of
      y e a r s . A t p r e s e n t a survey of t h e s i t e i s being c a r r i e d
      o u t by members of t h e c l u b under t h e s u p e r v i s i o n of Marine
      Archaeology s t a f f . Following t h i s a m e t a l d e t e c t o r survey
      w i l l b e c a r r i e d o u t and c l u b members w i l l a s s i s t i n a l i m i t e d
      e x c a v a t i o n of t h e s i t e .

      The C o l o n i a l Wreck Programme r e l i e s upon t h e cooperation of
      t h e d i v i n g p u b l i c of Western A u s t r a l i a . With s o many s i t e s
      s c a t t e r e d o v e r such a l o n g c o a s t l i n e Museum s t a f f look t o
      d i v e r s t o r e p o r t s i t e s and t o show Museum d i v e r s how t o g e t
      there.          S e v e r a l groups of d i v e r s a r e a t p r e s e n t being t r a i n e d
      i n s u r v e y t e c h n i q u e s i n a programme aimed a t a c t i v e involvement.


                                                                  Jeremy Green
                                                                  Graeme Henderson



Archived at Flinders University: dspace.flinders.edu.au

				
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